Coffee grown on Ometepe is now recognized as a distinct type because of the environment where it is grown. This achievement took many years of work by the two cooperatives that supply our coffee, representatives of Ometepe municipal offices and Nicaraguan agricultural agencies, and the Sister Islands’ agronomist, Rafael Cruz.
The “denomination of origin” for Ometepe coffee — similar to the way certain wines and cheeses can be marketed based on the geographic area they come from — means that the coffee is recognized as having unique qualities related to the region where it is grown. The denomination of origin is intended to boost marketing efforts.
Ometepe is the fourth region of Nicaragua to win the right to label its coffee as having a specific origin. The Dipilto region, in northern Nicaragua, was the first, in 2018. Most Nicaraguan coffee comes from high elevations in the north. Ometepe is often not even mentioned in blog posts and websites that discuss coffee from Nicaragua. “Twelve years ago when I started this work and looked for information, I realized that Ometepe didn’t appear on the map as a zone of coffee production,” Rafael said. “When I went to visit the northern part of the country and visited the Boaco zone (a municipality northwest of Managua), many of the producers/growers there were surprised to find out that Ometepe produced coffee.”
Now, Ometepe coffee is recognized as unique because it is grown at 200 to 400 meters — around 650 to 1,300 feet, much lower than most coffee because being surrounded by water creates the lower temperatures that coffee needs, which are normally present only at high elevations. That, soil conditions, and the fact that Ometepe coffee is shade-grown to protect the island’s status as a UNESCO biosphere reserve, results in its unique flavor profile: “its sweetness, uniformity, cleanliness and different fragrances … with fruity, citrus, caramel and chocolate notes,” according to the document granting the designation.
The designation, through the Nicaraguan Ministry of Development, Industry, and Trade, was celebrated on Nov. 30, 2023, in Managua at one of the most important auditoriums in the country. Among those who traveled to the event were eight members of the Productores Organico de Ometepe cooperative, five from the Carlos Diaz Cajina coopoperative, three from the Tostadores coffee company, and a representative of the Altagracia municipality.
The three men at the center on the stage in the top photograph: Felix Pascual Morales, president of the CDC cooperative; Manuel Flores, president of POO cooperative; and the Sister Island Association’s agronomist, Rafael Martin Cruz.